The goal of a conflict with a partner(s) is to attain a shared state where:
You all agree on a summary statement of what happened.
You all agree on the contributions everyone made to the conflict.
You all agree on what steps can be taken to minimize future occurrences.
Talk about behaviors, not others’ feelings. “You think I am a secondary,” is not as useful a statement as is, “When you take calls from her when you are with me, but don’t take calls from me when you are with her, I feel less important to you.” The second example gives information about specific behaviors that can inspire agreement for future behaviors. And notice that all important, “When you do X, I feel Y” phrasing.
Let everyone be the expert on themselves. Don’t tell your partners how they feel, (“You are so jealous!”), and do believe them when they tell you about themselves.
Repeat before responding. Before you respond to a point, repeat it back to the person who made it until they agree that you are responding to the point they made.
Own your poo. It is almost certainly true that everyone involved with the current conflict has made a contribution to its existence. If you can say, “Yeah, I did that part wrong/made that mistake,” on your own, you’ll save your partner(s) and yourself much aggravation.
When do we most often face a life transition?
The loss of a role
Dropping out of school
The loss of a person
Death (including pets)
Falling out with a clique
The loss of a place
Graduating high school / college
Relocation / Moving
The loss of a sense of where you fit in the world
Becoming a parent
What makes a life transition so difficult? Best practices for handling life transitions
The basic premise of most stress and coping literature is that there is no such thing as an inherently difficult life transition, and that most of the stress comes from within. While most life transitions are influenced by social, historical, and financial influences, many of these are predictable and the others are almost entirely random.
There is nothing inherently bad about change, and oftentimes this transition becomes integral to your personal lore. Adults who move often experience what is called the relocation bump, where the residential move has overarching significance to your major life events. Essentially, life changes organize autobiographical memories. What sort of autobiography do you want?
Feelings of depression or anxiety
Loss is still loss, change is still change. Whenever we have a life transition things get left behind-- friends, family, coworkers-- and we are left with just memories and long distance contact. This creates a state of grief that is amplified if the change is unexpected and unwanted (death, layoff, breakup).
Most of the time, grief in this instance is us struggling to update our mental map. When faced with sudden change we often have to immediately re-orient our lives and accept our new status before we can move forward. Sometimes we also have to accept that this change means that people might see us differently for a time. The sooner that we update our mental map, the easier we will find it to navigate our way through our new lives.
Example- if you break up with your long term mate, you have to accept the following:
You are now single
You are no longer in your comfort zone
Some people will think you’re being selfish or reckless
You might lose friends or invites to parties
Changes in life mean that we will never be the same person as we were before the change, and there is no going back.
panta rhei - Everything Flows (Heraclitus)
Getting stuck in the past
While readjusting your mental maps you want to avoid getting stuck in the past
We often use past landmarks, achievements, and experiences to orient ourselves, but never mistake reflection as an opportunity to move back through a closed door
Acknowledging that a door is closed is psychologically healthy. Spending your time doing nothing but staring at it, expecting it to reopen for you is not.
Reflection in this case is best spent thinking about prior changes and transitions you’ve made in your life. The circumstance might be new but the process is always going to be familiar.
You know what to expect. You know the terrain. You’ve learned the skills and acquired the experience. You can do this-- you’ve done it before.
Fortune Telling / Negative Thinking
We often look at change as the loss of a positive and not the start of a new opportunity. This is often due to the period of grief we undergo, and it’s all too easy to enter a state of auto-pilot while sorting that out.
Because of this, we often fortune-tell our experiences:
I’m never going to date again
I’m not going to make friends in the place I’m moving
I’m going to hate this promotion
By focusing on positive changes we can make throughout our life in general we will find it far better and healthier, and we often set ourselves up for more success this way.
During times of transition, when the entire systems you’ve set up for your life have crumbled, when your comfort zone has collapsed, you are the most malleable. In times of extreme flux, when you feel the most unsteady, consider the changes that you want to make and take action to fulfill them before you begin to settle into new patterns and routines.
If you are recently broken up with maybe you want to experiment with being more bold, or honest.
While it is not entirely healthy to recreate who you are every time you have a major life change, it can be a time to pick up something you’ve always wanted to try or do and see if that suits the direction you want your life to take.
Loss of momentum
Don’t take too long to get started on the next phase of your life. We are creatures of habit and shape our routines off of patterns, and the longer we take to get started on what we want to do, the harder we will find it to break the new mold of what we have created as the life around us.
Momentum is an important aspect to life change. We need to have a plan and act on it as soon as it is feasible, lest we lose momentum and desire to make further positive changes in our life.
Paraphrasing Alyssa Edwards: Don’t get bitter, get better. The longer we take to actualize change that we want to make, the less likely we are to change and the more likely we are to become bitter and self-hating, further prolonging our anxiety, depression, and grieving.
Lack of support
It’s difficult to make major changes in your life alone.
Metriko: I have moved alone so many times in my life. It’s exhausting, you often don’t know anyone where you’re moving to, and ultimately you feel super isolated when you have to take everything up on your own shoulders. Do this for too long and you crumble out of exhaustion
Changes and upsets in our paradigms can make us feel lost, and having people close to you (friends, family, counselors, therapists) can help to keep you feel grounded and less disassociated with yourself.
Just because you move doesn’t mean the people you leave behind stop existing. Rely on your old friends and role models for help, even from afar-- they may not be sharing the experience but they can still offer an objective perspective to help you keep moving forward.
Unrealistic Timeframes / Expectations
We will always second guess ourselves and the decisions we make.
We should never have moved
We should have never broken up with our ex
Second guessing is a natural part to changes in life, and we need to be generous to ourselves in our timeframes to adapt to it
If we try to force comfort in our new state of being it does nothing but cause more pressure and stress, leading us to believe the change is the cause for the pain we’re feeling and not our own unrealistic expectations
Changes are liminal periods, where we cast off the old and are slowly stepping into the new. Don’t feel that you have to rush it. Take your time, relax, and stay positive, patient, and proactive.
Subject: I'm struggling to make a romantic connection
I have failed to find chemistry with the last four people who I've had been attracted to and dated. I don't know if this is because they were incompatible or because I'm not letting myself be vulnerable and feel things properly after a few bad experiences. I thought taking things slower and making friends first would help, but it doesn't seem to be making a difference.
Something that a few of these people have had in common is low confidence, indecisiveness and an eagerness to please, meaning that I have had to be a lot more active at making moves and decisions, which I am appalling at.
I'm trying to give my all to connecting with some beautiful people, but at the same time I don't want to lead them up the garden path or break their heart, especially if they have the feeling that people date them to please them rather than because they are genuinely attractive and likeable. Do I need to make it absolutely clear that I'm only looking for friends until I've got my head sorted out, and how do I say that without increasing their paranoia?
Ms. Hyde Plug
I'm participating in a "Streak for Tigers" around London Zoo on the 10th of August. If you'd like to know how to support me running around the zoo naked and fundraising to protect tigers in the wild, then you can find details @HanacondaSparks on Twitter.
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